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Pace and Space


Man holding a basketball on the court

I love this time of year. Anyone who knows me, knows that I can watch basketball day and night, if given the opportunity. I often don’t care who is playing. I just enjoying watching the game, especially when it is played well as a team. For that reason, I usually prefer to watch college basketball over professional. However, I live in Metro Atlanta and our hometown Atlanta Hawks have surprised most of the country.


If I am lucky, you have read the first paragraph and you are still reading. You are probably saying what he is talking about and what does any of it have to with building a better nonprofit. Well, here you go. Both good basketball and good fundraising are all about Pace and Space. It is a term you hear thrown around a lot by basketball commentators. It has to do with moving the ball quickly to find the best shot since the team is spaced out well and not jamming up a particular part of the floor. If you watch a good team (like the Hawks) employ Pace and Space, you will see five guys sharing the ball and passing up a good shot to give their teammate a better shot. You can read a lot about it online. Here is one of many articles, http://tinyurl.com/lwuotrj.


OK, all fun, but how will that help my nonprofit? Legitimate question. Here goes. Way too often, an organization will get very focused (maybe too focused) on a particular prospect. The organization believes that getting Mrs. X to support them will solve all the fundraising issues. However, it isn’t true. The best organizations are those who fundraising plans are diversified and have all types of donors giving at all times.


Do you have a plan/strategy for reaching those donors and prospects who are consistent supporters, if just asked? Are you asking them in the way the best respond (phone, email, written letter – yes, it still works very well with particular demographics)? Are you set up to ask and receive regular (monthly, quarterly, semi-annually) donations and properly thank them? There is so much being written about building a strong renewal donor campaign.

Are you meeting your top donors/prospects regularly to cultivate and steward, not just ask for a gift? You should be developing that deeper, more meaningful relationship. Do you even know who these people are? Is your list the same for the past five or ten years? You should have added people and moved others off. It needs to be dynamic, not static.


Are you only talking/asking for annual support? Are people able to make multi-year commitments? Do you have goals for specific time periods? Goals shouldn’t be just about dollars raised. How many people are being asked, visited, emailed, thanked, etc.? If people are interested in a planned gift of bequest, have you provided the simple, needed information that shows you are able to help them and utilize their gift in perpetuity?

We didn’t even get to capital. That could be one article by itself. However, you should be thinking.


It isn’t a surprise that having a campaign timeline (Pace) and diversification of giving (Space) is what successful organizations due. It isn’t new, nor is Pace and Space in basketball. It is good fundamentals. It builds winning teams in basketball and in nonprofits.


If you’d like to learn more on how your organization can succeed (like the Hawks), I invite you to contact me or the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. There are a number of people who can help your organization build a strong, winning team that is built of these fundamentals.


Let’s Go Hawks!

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